Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Hopes: How I Went

It's that time of the year again.  I've blinked and it's New Year's Eve and I'm sitting at my computer wondering what hit me this year.  It has been the worst year of my life!

How did I go with my hopes for 2013?

1.  SURVIVE.  My aim is to get home from hospital and be in 'survival mode' (like I am when I'm sick or recovering from being sick - just do the bare essentials).  A shower is an achievement.  Preparing a meal is an achievement.  This will be hard for me.  I like to DO things other than day-to-day tasks, but I also know my limitations.  I'm aiming just to rest, recover, enjoy getting to know the baby, and being a family of three.
I failed!  Although by God's grace, I am sitting here typing this post today, I should have known I would never have been happy with just surviving.  Yet, I have survived!  There were many moments during August where I decided to take my own life.  Now I am feeling much better, and although I want to be with Jesus, I also want to live for Him right now, in the present, on this earth.

Should we have another child, there are so many things I would do differently.  I would refuse visitors for a start.  It was all too much.

2.  Continue editing my book and then search for a literary agent.  I'm doing some editing at the moment, I will stop (obviously) when baby is born, then try to do little bits here and there when I'm feeling a bit more robust.
I didn't do any editing until October and I only managed a few chapters.  My main aim this year was to get well and keep Rory alive.  The moments of spare time I did have I spent doing much more pleasant things than editing.  When you've had broken sleep for months, it's not a good time to be carefully reading your own work.

3.  Join our church's women's Bible study group or meet one-to-one with another Christian woman.  Again, this can wait until things have settled down a bit.
Just when I felt ready to get back into Bible study, my church's morning ladies Bible study shut down because of a lack of numbers.  I started my own small group with two other ladies from the farm, but that ended up falling in a heap unfortunately.  Rory's terrible sleeping meant it was impossible for me to rejoin the night Bible study Duncan and I had been a part of before Rory was born.  Duncan would go on Wednesday nights and I would stay home, only joining in if it was at our house.  Next year I feel more confident that we could put Rory down in a portacot at someone else's house and he would actually sleep so hopefully I can get back into some sort of Bible study again.

4.  Go on a holiday to Sydney to celebrate my 30th birthday instead of having a party.  My birthday is in May, but if we do go, it won't be until July or August.  Duncan thinks an interstate trip with a baby will be hard for us.  We'll see.
Well, we did this one!  We braved a plane trip with a baby, visited some dear friends in Sydney, and I got to add to my wonderful Sydney memories.  I even managed a party a few weeks before our trip....bonus!

5.  Keep on with the mission convenors role at our church in partnership with Duncan.  Last year I hoped to get the congregation (including myself) to take more of an interest in missions.  This year I want to actively encourage the missionaries we support through emails, letters etc.
Duncan and I stepped down from this when Rory was four weeks old as it was clear I had postnatal depression.  We've just been voted in to do the role again as of now.

Good riddance 2013!  You gave me my beautiful boy!  You showed me what a great man I have.  You surrounded me with some lovely friends.  You gave me new friends in women who were fighting the same battles.  You showed me that I have a great God.  Yet, I am so glad to see the back of you.  No, a change of year won't make everything different but, to me, it feels like a fresh start.

Friday, December 27, 2013

We've All Had That Friend...

Imagine if you had a friend who you only heard from when they wanted something from you.

When things were going well for them they never bothered to talk to you.  But when a disaster happened they were begging you to help them.

If you didn't give them what they wanted, they grew angry at you, shook their fist at you and told you to get lost.  They didn't want to hear the hard truth about the dodgy decisions they were making.  They thought it was perfectly ok to interact with you at special occasions but ignore you for the rest of the year.

Even though they don't bother with you most of the time, they still think they have the right to invite themselves into your house.  It doesn't matter to them that it's your house and you alone have the right to decide who enters it.  Not only that, they think that they and all of their friends have the right to come over because they're good people and of course you must want them in your house.

You love this friend and desperately want a good relationship with them, but you never seem to get much of their attention.  You know you're the best friend they'd ever have, but you're always competing with their many other 'friends' who you know aren't good for them and will only lead them astray.

Have you had a 'friend' like this?  I know I've felt used by some people who just want to waltz into my life whenever they see fit.  I've felt outraged at their expectations.  I mean, how DARE they!

While we may have been treated badly by that friend....we also ARE that friend.

That's how all of us treat God.

We come crying to Him when there's a natural disaster or when we or a loved one are ill, but when He doesn't answer our prayers the way we want Him to, we tell everyone what a bad God He is for not doing what we want.  He forget all of the times He's loved and cared for us, and we take all of His blessings without a word of thanks.  We talk to Him at Christmas or Easter but ignore Him for the rest of the year.  Despite heaven being His domain, we think we have the right to make the rules about who enters and who doesn't.  Of course, we and our friends are in 'cos we're 'good people'.

Yet, despite all of this, God loves us and pursues us.  He gave up everything for us.  But He is a jealous God who won't compete with the idols in our hearts and lives forever.

Something I'm pondering as the new year approaches....

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Quote of the Day

True friendship isn't about being inseparable, it's about being separated and nothing changes.
- Unknown

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Why Trust The Bible?

On Christmas Eve it seems fitting to ask the question, Is the Bible true?  After all, many people will have been reading the Christmas story in the Bible in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  How we do know what REALLY happened?  Can we trust the Bible as a reliable historical manuscript?

These are good questions to ask and are a stumbling block to many when it comes to investigating Christianity.  Amy Orr-Ewing was challenged by her friends with these very questions and so she set about proving that what the Bible says about history and Jesus is wholly reliable and true.

In the book, she addresses 10 main questions that non-Christians challenge the Bible with:

  • Isn't it all a matter of interpretation?
  • Can we know anything about history?
  • Are the biblical manuscripts reliable?
  • Is the contents of the manuscripts reliable?
  • What about the canon?
  • What about the other holy books?
  • Isn't the Bible sexist?
  • What about all the wars?
  • Isn't the Bible out of date on sex?
  • How can I know?
This is a great book to give to non-Christians who are asking the hard questions about the Bible.  It is particularly aimed at those 'academic types' (some of it went a bit over my head even though I've been to uni), people who want facts and 'proof'.

It's also ideal for Christians who've been asked this question by friends and are not quite sure to say.  It helped me feel more confident in explaining why I trust the Bible and that it's not a book of fairy stories.

However, the thing I had to remind myself was that faith is ultimately God's work.  A book like this is great to give to someone wanting to hold the Bible up against time and history, but it cannot change people's hearts.  It may set them along the path to faith, but only God can make the seed grow.  Too often when I've had conversations with people wanting hardcore proof, I've thought that if only I could find enough proof, then they'd come to faith.  But sometimes the questions come because people DON'T WANT to believe.  I used to ask these questions before I became a Christian, but I didn't really want the answers - I just wanted an excuse to mock the Bible.  I was quick to believe other stories passed down in history, but doubt the Bible because it makes such big claims on our lives.  God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.

Still, for someone with these questions, whether they are genuinely seeking or not, this book would be good to give to them.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bible Verse of the Day

Merry Christmas to all readers of this blog in 2013!  May you rejoice that the Saviour of the world is come, and His birth was foretold hundreds of years earlier.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Funny

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting Rory in person....now you'll believe me when I say he has the best laugh! :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I'm Not The Only One...

... in my household to have suffered from depression and anxiety this year.

In March, when Rory was two months old, I noticed Ebony had a bald patch on her abdomen.  When she rolled onto her back, I was shocked at the extent of it.  Not long after that I noticed her pulling her own fur out.

At our first trip to the vet to investigate they checked her out for ringworm but she was all clear.  Apart from her increasing baldness, she was in otherwise good health.  The vet came to the conclusion that Ebony must be suffering due to Rory's arrival.  It is common for cats to respond by grooming excessively when a dramatic change (such as a new baby) occurs.  They sold me a diffuser which emits an odour that is meant to calm cats.  I tried it for a month but it didn't make a difference.

Vet Trip #2.  Same vet clinic but different vet.  She wanted to rule out allergies.  Apparently some cats around Ebony's age (she is nearly eight) can suddenly become allergic to food they've always eaten and never had a problem with.  Ebony was injected with a steroid.  If the hair grew back they would know it was something in her diet and a food elimination process could begin.  If it made no difference, it must be a psychological problem.  The injection didn't make a difference.

Vet Trip #3.  This time they tried injecting her with an anti-anxiety drug.  It still hasn't worked.  She is balder than she's ever been.

Apart from the fur loss, she is in otherwise good health.  She sleeps on our bed every night.  I make an effort to give her attention (but it is so SO hard with a baby).  While she was wary of Rory at first, now she comes up to him and sits near him, even though he's now crawling and can easily grab her (I say, "NO Rory.  Gentle.").  Other than the excessive grooming, her behaviour isn't really any different to the pre-Rory days.  She's always been a diva cat.  I know that Rory's crying does freak her out a bit though and I think she can sense Duncan's and my stress.

My heart is breaking for my poor puss.  The next step is probably going to be a skin biopsy.  I don't want to blame myself for causing her stress when I've been unwell myself, but it's hard not to.

I've even emailed Dr Harry to see if we can appear on one of his surprise house calls!

These photos don't even show the full extent of it:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Quote of the Day

If you know someone who's depressed please never resolve to ask them why.  Depression isn't a straightforward response to a bad situation, depression just is, like the weather.

Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness and loneliness they're going through.  Be there for them when they come through the otherside.  It's hard to be a friend to someone who's depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest and best things you will ever do.
- Stephen Fry

Monday, December 16, 2013

Waking Up Tired by the Hoodoo Gurus

Harvest is tiring me out as much as it is Duncan. Even if Rory doesn't wake me, the summer weather and light is. Urgh!

Oh, the nights are long,
And I'm so tired of waking up tired,
Man, they just drag on and on,
And I'm so tired of waking up tired.
The company I'm keeping won't let me get my sleep in.
Oh, I hate the light,
And I'm so tired of waking up tired.
The morning sun is getting way too bright,
And I'm so tired of waking up tired.
If I was worth a fortune I'd never leave my bedroom,
I just wanna stay right here, safe and sound.
Oh, I have to go,
But I'm so tired of waking up tired.

Lyrics sourced from here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

God's Good Design

I loved this book!  FINALLY a book that takes a good, hard look at what the Bible has to say on the roles of men and women, the meaning of 'submission', and clarifies those passages which make us squirm and reluctant to explain to our non-Christian friends.

Claire Smith shares her own story of how she became a Christian as a young adult, yet it wasn't until years later that she had her feminist views challenged by the very passages she examines closely in this book.

The controversial passages include:
1 Timothy 2
 1 Corinthians 11
1 Corinthians 14
Ephesians 5
1 Peter 3
Genesis 1-3
Proverbs 31

The passages are divided into those who are about men and women's roles in the church and the roles of husbands and wives in the home, and how God did not intend these to be vastly different.  What I liked about this book was the methodical look at each verse in the passage, the mention of the context, and the challenge to take off our cultural 'glasses' when we approach the Bible.  When I first read some of the Bible properly as a first year uni student, I was coming to it with my own biases firmly in place, heavily influenced by what Australian society says about men and women.  It was very, very hard to come to the Bible and not immediately get my back up (it still is sometimes).  Claire makes no apologies for what the Bible says.  She knows Christians often cringe about these passages and would love an easy escape route in the form of a preacher who would say they are no longer relevant.  But God's Word, although written in a different time and place, is as relevant today and tomorrow as it was back then.

The book neither dismisses submission as old-fashioned and no longer required, nor does it add a list of culturally-inherited 'rules' for women to follow.  Submission will look different for each woman depending on the context she is in.  The way I submit to Duncan will look different to how my other married Christian female friends submit to their husbands.  Although I appreciate the example of other godly women, my marriage is not to be modelled on someone else's - it is to be shaped by God's Word.

I appreciated the reminder that men and women were designed by God to be equal, yet different.  God is not a male chauvinist, nor are men and women exactly the same.  Both are equally loved by God, both are as equally important, both are sinful, but they have different roles.

This book is available from the Matthias Media Australian store here.

There is also a US store here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Marriage 101: The S Word

I came to uni as a feminist.  I guess I couldn't be considered all that hardcore - I didn't like bras but didn't actually want to burn them - but I believed in women's rights.  The Bible was an outdated, chauvinistic book.  If I ever got married, there was no way 'obey' was going to make its way into the vows.  Submit was a dirty word.

Fast forward a year and a half and I'm sitting at Mid Year Conference (a camp for all of the Christian Unions at all of the unis in Perth), talking to two girls I'd just met.  I'm 19 years old and they're both around my age.  The two girls were discussing how some high school girls they knew were talking at youth group about how they didn't want to submit if they got married one day.
"I don't know why some girls think submitting is so hard," one girl remarked.  The other nodded and I, now in the process of being softened by Jesus to His ways, nodded as well.

Looking back, that conversation seems so ridiculous.  We were all single.  We had NO IDEA what it was like to be a married Christian woman so how could we say submission is so easy?

Submission has been a constant struggle in my marriage.  Although I was only 24 when I got married, I was set in my ways and liked having full control of my life's steering wheel.  I was only prepared to submit if Duncan wanted something that I wanted anyway.

Not only that, I was confused as the what submission looked like practically.  I've already observed a number of different interpretations and practices in Christian marriages:
  • When it comes to major decisions, the husband should have the final say and the wife must go along with it, even if she disagrees. 
  • Then the opposite - submission does not involve the wife not having her say - both husband and wife must come to an agreement before any action is taken.
  • The wife must follow her husband's interpretation of the Bible, even if it is heretical, because he is her spiritual leader.
  • Then the opposite - the husband's role is to lead the wife spiritually, but the wife's ultimate allegiance is to God so she must not follow her husband into heresy.
  • The wife should stay at home, cook, clean and raise the children.  The husband should work.
  • Then the opposite - how each family works is up to them, whether it be both spouses sharing work and child-raising or something else.
  • The wife should not spend money without asking her husband for permission.
  • The husband should initiate quiet times with the wife.
  • The wife must take a real, active interest in the husband's work (especially if it's farming).
  • Being a submissive wife does not mean the wife should turn off her brain or shouldn't think for herself.
All of this coupled with jargon such as 'complimentarian' and 'egalitarian', men spouting off Ephesians 5:22-24 smugly, and hotly debated Bible chapters such as 1 Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 11, 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Peter 3, no wonder I was confused!

After five and a half years of marriage, I still struggle to follow Duncan's leadership and I forget to encourage him to lead.  Just as I'm learning to be a wife, he's still learning to be a husband.  We need to show each other some grace.

Thankfully I read a book last year which addressed many of my questions, concerns, objections and really nutted through the Bible passages I mentioned above.

Stay tuned for a review.....

Monday, December 09, 2013

Quote of the Day

The man is the head but the woman is the neck.  And she can turn the head any way she wants.
 - Maria Portokalos (Lainie Kazan) in My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Friday, December 06, 2013

Emma's 30th

The second last 30th I will attend this year.

My dear friend and former housemate Emma celebrated her 30th a couple of weeks ago.  She had two parties - a 'dessert indulgence night' followed by a picnic the next day.  On the Saturday night she, her mum, her sister and five of her closest female friends had the delight of dressing up and tasting a variety of exquisite desserts.  Unfortunately the picnic ended by being rained out, but it was still a great affair.

Emma, Rhianon, me, Rianna

Emma telling everyone to go and eat cake

Mmm so many cakes to choose from

The birthday girl

Bubba Rory

Christina getting cuddles with Rory

Christina and I

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Get On Your Soapbox #24

Urgh, I am SO OVER the world's OBSESSION with happiness and positive thinking.

Apparently everyone's main aim should be to be happy all the time and, if something bad happens, well, we'll just close our eyes and think positive and it will all go away.

First things first, I'm not at all meaning people who think that thinking positively will help them fight cancer or unemployment or whichever battle they are facing.  That's great!  Should we count our blessings and keep slogging away when things look bleak?  Absolutely.

What I've had a gutful of is people telling those who are suffering to just be happy because life's too short, or think positive and it will all be ok, or something else equally patronising, superficial and trite.  To the suffering, it sounds like, Shut up and get over it, I'm sick of hearing about your problems, you're ruining my happy existence.  Newsflash: life is hard, people are suffering, and no-one can be happy all the time.  If they are, they must be high on drugs.  I've had people try and get me on the happiness/positive thinking juggernaut when I've been in the midst of depression and it just made me feel worse.

The Comfort In, Dump Out model has been floated around a bit on Facebook and Meredith posted it on her blog.  It's so spot on!  People going through hard times need comfort and support, not silly whimsical advice.

I don't go for happiness.  No, I'm not a masochist or like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh (at least I hope not).  I'm a realist.  Life is hard.  We live in a fallen world.  Grief needs to be worked through and done well, not just shoved away and a fake smile plastered on.  Happiness is fleeting because it usually arises from a particular circumstance and when that circumstance changes for the worse, it is difficult to remain happy.  I don't want happiness, I want joy.  Joy is deeper.  Joy is constant.  Joy is knowing that my troubles are fleeting and one day I will be with Jesus.  One day there will be no more crying, mourning or pain.  Joy is knowing Christ, that He is Lord and my Saviour, that He loves me deeply, no matter what I may be going through all the time.  I can have tears running down my face and still be joyful because I know and trust Him.

The other reason I dislike the world's obsession with happiness is that it is so self-centred.  Happiness is all about me.  I want to feel good.  It's about having things go my way so I can feel good, so I ultimately need to keep pursuing happiness more and more.  This pursuit doesn't consider others.

Tim Minchin got it so right in his address to staff and graduates at UWA.  Watch it.  I agree with his views on the pursuit of happiness.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Bible Verse of the Day

To some people, studying at university, then working, only to give it up to stay home and be at the mercy of a very confusing baby, seems ludicrous.

But that's in the eyes of the world.  I don't see having my little man and staying home to look after him as a waste of my time or talents.  I'm glad to be home with him, watching him grow (most days).  This time will never come again and, God-willing, I can still use my qualifications sometime down the track.

Yet, as much as I love Rory, sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in Groundhog Day.  The feeding, the nappy-changing, the entertaining, the comforting, the housework...each day seems the same.  And the days are long!  Often I wake up feeling like I haven't recovered from the day before.

There is someone that notices.  My Heavenly Father sees all.  You see, I don't just do it all for Rory, I do it all for God...for His glory.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24

Monday, December 02, 2013

Press On Mums by Colin Buchanan

I've mentioned before that Colin Buchanan is a regular feature in my car now (the man knows how to settle grizzly babies, I can tell you!)

Karen and Meredith recommended I get Colin's CD, Real Hope which has the following song.

It's the middle of harvest here and, boy, now I know why mums with small children on farms detest seeding and harvest so much!  It's hard on the men, but it's hard on the women as well.  I feel like a single parent some days as Duncan's gone before Rory gets up and not home until he's in bed again.

I take my hat off to you, single mums!  You are amazing!

Thank you, Colin for this song!  May it encourage all of the mums out there.  I can't wait to buy this CD!

Press on, Mums, in all the chaos,
Look to Jesus through the tears,
God will guide you
Through those precious, tender years.
And in all you do, do it for Jesus,
Who won you life and free forgiveness.
Yesterday, today, He is the same,
All you do, do it in Jesus' name.
And when all your human energy is gone,
Look towards your Jesus and press on.

Lyrics sourced from here.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I haven't read many Christian books this year...in fact, I've hardly read any.

But I did read and enjoy this one.

Together is Carrie Ward's story of how she sat and read the ENTIRE Bible to her three (later four) children at the breakfast table over several years.  After struggling with her own Bible reading and feeling disillusioned and hypocritical about how she was going to instil a love of Scripture in her kids, she prayed and then optimistically started the reading adventure from Genesis to Revelation.  I received this book as a Christmas present from a friend last year and what a timely gift it was now that I'm a mum and can relate to Carrie's struggles.

Here's what I learnt from this great little book:

It's never too late and they're never too youngI've been tempted to think that since Rory is a baby it's pointless to read the Bible to him.  It's never too early.  I'd like the reading of Scripture together to become 'normal' for him - maybe not at the breakfast table, but sometime (a friend of mine reads the Bible with her kids at lunchtime before they have their afternoon naps).  If you've never read the Bible with your kids, it's not too late no matter how old they are.  When Carrie started reading to her kids she had three (her fourth child arrived part way through their read through) and her eldest was four.

Persist, even though it seems like they're not listening: Carrie despaired after Day 1 because her kids were...well...being kids.  She wondered what the point of it all was...until she saw them role playing what they'd just read about in Genesis.  They were listening after all!

Read ahead of them: Carrie would 'prepare' for the next reading by staying a chapter or two ahead of her kids.  That way she could pray about and decide how to tackle issues raised in the passage and potential questions they might ask (she also has a great section in the book on how to deal with and explain those awkward, adult-content type passages in an age-appropriate way).  It also motivated her to read the Bible on her own and not just when her kids were present.

The wagon may stop momentarily but don't get off it: When Carrie was estimating how long it would take to read through the entire Bible she factored in things such as sick days, visitors, when she was having her fourth child....life sometimes gets in the way of carefully made plans.  But that's not a reason to stop.  Don't despair if you've missed a few days, just get back on the wagon again.

Nothing beats the real thing: Children's Bibles have their place, but nothing is better than the real Bible, the inspired Word of God.  I think often many people assume children won't understand the real Bible, but God is powerful.

Sometimes I read a Psalm to Rory as I read through them myself.  Reviewing this book was a reminder to get back on the wagon again.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Older Woman and the Younger Woman

Dear Older Women,

I'm watching you.  Not in a creepy stalker type way, but I'm watching you to learn how to be a godly woman.

Therefore, when I hear you unfairly criticising young mothers behind their backs, I feel dismayed and discouraged.  I wonder what you're saying behind my back about how I parent Rory.  I'm not sure if I can take you at face value.  I don't know if I can approach you or be honest about the parenting decisions I've made.

When you say that you don't know why young mothers are so stressed, it's not that bad etc., I feel like there is no listening, wise ear I can turn to.  It seems like you've forgotten that you were that young mum 10, 20 or 30+ years ago and I don't know where to seek encouragement and empathy from.

When I see you drinking too much, getting 'tipsy', I start to feel like I'm alone in striving to swim against our alcohol-saturated and infatuated culture.  I start to wonder what the point of being different is when the church is no different to the world.

When you have the 'my views of the Bible are correct and you're young and don't know anything' attitude, I feel like we can't study the Word together and have a friendly discussion, learn from each other, and even disagree.

You see, I don't have a Christian mum.  I learn from the myriad of Christian women I've met in my life. 

'Older woman' doesn't mean old.  It's all relative.  By older, I just mean older than me.

I had a scary thought recently; I'm so used to being the younger woman and 'watching' the older women.  But now I wonder....who's watching me?

To some, I'm the older woman.  The primary school girls, the tweens, the teens, and the twenty-somethings.  Maybe they're also sussing out what it means to be a woman who loves Jesus and follows Him wholeheartedly.  Maybe they're watching to see how I relate to others, behave when I think no-one's watching, speak about others, react when people treat me badly and life doesn't go my way, how I treat my husband, my son, the lowly, forgotten people in society....

That's scary, but it's also a privilege.

I just have to share a great conversation I had with a lady from my church recently.  She is in her early eighties and she and her husband have recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.  When I congratulated her, she asked me how long Duncan and I have been married.
"Five years," I replied.
"You're just at the beginning," she told me.  "Have you ever thought about walking out?"
Thoughts raced through my mind.  The honest answer was 'yes', so I didn't want to lie. I think if all women are honest, they'll admit to having had those thoughts.  Marriage is wonderful, but it's also hard work!   But if I told the truth, would she just give me a lecture?
"Me too," she said.  "So many times."  Then she encouraged me to stick at it.
I came away feeling so refreshed by her honesty and looking forward to (God-willing) celebrating more marriage milestones with Duncan.

Thank you to those women who have mentored, encouraged, prayed for and with me over the years, who have read the Bible with me, and been up for a chat.  You're the kind of woman I want to be.  Your example is noted. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bible Verse of the Day

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to subject to their husbands, so that no-one will malign the word of God.
Titus 2:3-5

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Funny

Another one that was emailed to me.  I have no idea how much of it's true, but it gave me a laugh.  I reckon it was written by a man haha.


If you yelled for eight years, seven hours and six minutes you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.
Hardly seems worth it.

If you farted consistently for six years and nine months enough gas is produced to create the energy of an atomic bomb.
Now that's more like it.

The human heart creates enough pressure when it pumps out to the body to squirt blood 30 feet.
Oh my gosh!

A pig's orgasm lasts 30 minutes.

A cockroach will live nine days without its head before it starves to death.
Creepy!  I'm still not over the pig.

Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour.
Don't try this at home; maybe at work.

The male praying mantis cannot copulate while its head is attached to its body.  The female initiates sex by ripping the male's head off.
Honey, I'm home.  What the heck?

The flea can jump 350 times its body length.  It's like a human jumping the length of a football field.
30 minutes!  Lucky pig!  Can you imagine?

The catfish has over 27,000 taste buds.
What could be so tasty on the bottom of a pond?

Some lions mate over 50 times a day.
I still can't believe that pig....quality over quantity.

Butterflies taste with their feet.
Something I've always wanted to know.

Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people.
If you're ambidextrous, do you split the difference?

Elephants are the only animals that cannot jump.
Ok, so that would be a good thing.

A cat's urine glows under a black light.
I wonder how much the government paid to figure that out.

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.
I know some people like that.

Starfish have no brains.
I know some people like that, too.

Polar bears are left-handed.
If they switch they'll live a lot longer.

Humans and dolphins are the only species that have sex for pleasure.
What about that pig?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Aria's 1st Birthday

About a year ago we were privileged to be asked to be godparents to our friends Joel and Sam's newborn daughter Aria. 

Last month she celebrated her first birthday.

Rory was very excited to be able to celebrate
with his little friend.


It's very cool to be a godparent.  We hope to be able to encourage her to follow the Lord Jesus in the years to come, be a godly example, and have a lot of fun along the way.

I will be perusing Meredith's series Hooray for Godparents - Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Loose Lips Sink Friendships

I was once asked what I consider to be the most important traits to look for in a friend.  I have a few, but one is an absolute must:


Without trust, there cannot be an intimate friendship.  Sure, you can be friends with someone you don't trust, but they can never be a close friend.  If our conversation is not progressing past casual chit-chat/what the weather is like because I'm afraid they might blab anything I say to the next 50 people they encounter, then it's not really a friendship; they're more of an acquaintance.

Women have all gossiped or had other women gossip about others to us - I think it's pretty safe to say that.  I did a dictionary search for the word 'gossip' as it seems to mean different things to different people.  Some say a gossip is someone who maliciously spreads lies and rumours.  Others say it's someone who can't keep a secret because they get too excited or just can't help themselves, but no harm was actually intended.  Still others say if someone repeats something they were asked to keep to themselves, whether it's true or not, good news or bad, it's still gossip!

The Free Dictionary seems to support all three definitions:

A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumours or facts.
A conversation involving malicious chatter or rumours about other people.
Can't keep a secret.
Idle talk.

I've told gossipy people stuff, knowing that they were going to spread it as soon as possible.  That was because I really didn't care!  They may have thought they had a tasty morsel of news, but either it was old hat or nothing really confidential or important.  I remember laying a trap for a gossip once; I told them something that wasn't really that secret, but asked them to keep it to themselves.  When I realised that their lips had flapped, I knew I couldn't trust them with anything really important.  It doesn't matter whether they're just one of those people who 'got too excited and couldn't help it'.  They need to SEW their lips shut if need be.

I deliberately hid that I was in the MBU from some people.  It's not because I was ashamed but because I didn't want them delighting in telling people.  I didn't want the whole 'gossip disguised as prayer points' thing happening:
"We should pray for Sarah."
"Oh, what's happened to Sarah?"
"Didn't you know?"
It made me happy to stop them getting their jollies out of telling people.

Information shared should not automatically be classified as gossip.  It's ok to share news.  We should definitely pray together for people.  The problem is when it is BREAKING CONFIDENTIALITY.

What's so juicy about gossip?  Why do it?  Why do some people particularly get a buzz out of it?

I think it's the 'being in the know' factor.

Gossip gives people a sense of self-importance.  They knew FIRST.  Therefore, they must have more friends, be more liked and in the inner circle and not the outer.  This is quite interesting because gossips rarely stay in the 'inner circle' when people realise they can't be trusted.  Have you ever been told a piece of gossip and seen the deflated look on the gossip's face when you told them you already knew?  Suddenly they realise they're not so special.  They're not everyone's best friend.

It is so, so hard not to indulge in gossip.  Whether it's been in schools, workplaces, churches, I've seen and heard it all.  It's horrible to feel on the outer, to not be accepted by the clique.  But gossip is never a good way to make friends.  If someone is bitching to you about their best friend, then what are they saying about you to someone else?  Gossip may unite women at first, but it's usually only temporary.

One thing that struck me about the definitions of gossip was that it was described as 'idle talk'.  One of the biggest temptations for women to gossip is when we're idle.  I've noticed that in country towns.  I used to work in a shop where sometimes the same women would come in several times a day, admitting it was because they were bored.  Oh my, the stuff they would say about people in the town, people I hadn't even met yet!  Keeping busy can help with the temptation to gossip.

Please God, help me and other women keep a reign on our tongues.  Let us speak words of truth, encouragement and love.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bible Verse of the Day

A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
Proverbs 11:13

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Bubba: 7-8 Months

Those two months were spent mastering sitting, 'talking' (dadadada), blowing raspberries and trying to crawl (and getting rather frustrated that he couldn't yet).  He got his first tooth in early September, experienced his first plane ride (to Sydney), battled consistent flare ups of eczema, and his appetite increased tenfold.  He is a ravenous fellow!

Sadly, my two men were unwell on Father's Day.

Such a cute fellow, even with eczema.

Mmm socks!

 Daddy's boy

Pumpkin is always a winner!

At church wearing his new peaked hat from Grandma.
He looks like a cute pixie.

Off to Bunnings with Daddy.  He hates it when I take him clothes
shopping or opshopping, but squeals in delight when we go to
Bunnings (such a boy!).

Having lunch together in Katanning.

Some friends gave us their kids' old walker.
Rory absolutely loves it (and so do I 'cos I can
get a few things done).

Why are you taking a picture of me?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Definition

During the group sessions at the MBU, we were asked to write our own definitions of 'depression' and 'anxiety'.  The clinical psychologist running the group told us she didn't want a dictionary definition of the terms i.e. depression is a consistent low mood of more than two weeks etc. but rather what depression and anxiety felt like to US.

These are the definitions I wrote over six months ago now.  I'm not sharing them to be morbid, but rather to help others gain a better understanding of what sufferers go through:


Crying for no reason
Nothing to look forward to.
In a deep pit and can't get out.
Irritated by some people.
Trapped in a nightmare.
Don't want to get out of bed and face the day.
Wanting to be alone, yet feeling so lonely.


Tense muscles
Can't relax
On edge
Feeling like I'm walking through Northbridge by myself at night, just waiting for someone to jump out and mug me.
Can't sleep
Lying rigidly on my bed instead of sinking comfortably into the mattress.
Rushing to get everything done.
Can't enjoy the moment.
Wanting time to pass quickly, yet slowly.
Fight or flight reaction.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Speaking Out

While I was visiting my parents recently, my mum showed me an article from The West Australian newspaper. It was featured as part of Mental Health Week and was a Perth woman's story of her battle with postnatal depression.
"Do you know this woman?" my mum asked.  The reason she thought I might know her was that the article mentioned she'd been in the MBU earlier this year.

Yes, I know her!  Julie was in the MBU when I was.  I really appreciated her input in the group sessions, her honesty and openness, and I was so sad when I read that it hasn't been smooth sailing for her since she was discharged.

I'm going to write to the editor and thank Julie for being brave enough to share her story.  She continues to be an encouragement to me.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Prompted To Write: Life in the Digital Age

This is my entry for Meredith's bi-monthly writing challenge Prompted To Write.

A week before Rory was born, I stepped out of the dark ages and into the shiny world of iphones.  It was one of those decisions I'd been umming and ahhhing about for a while.  I had a perfectly functional Samsung flip phone, and I can't stand how some people deliberately smash their phone or drown it in the washing machine just so they have an excuse to get the latest model.  I was well aware of the temptations of having internet access right at my fingertips.  Then there was the temptation of scrolling away on the thing when I'm out socialising with people (I've 'confiscated' Duncan's phone a few times).

After 10 months in iphoneland, I'm glad I made the jump.
  • It's my phone, camera, internet browser, social media, email, torch, weather advisor, street directory, bank, and gateway to online shopping - all in one!
  • The apps that exist out there never cease to amaze me.  We order pizzas using the Dominos app when we go to Perth.
  • Now that I'm a mum, starting up the laptop and getting on the internet seems all too hard some days.  I like how I can jump on Facebook quickly and easily.
  • There's even a Blogger app!  I've used it quite a few times to do a quick post, edit a typo out of an existing post and publish a pending comment.
  • The old days of looking up the street directory, writing down directions on a piece of paper and then having it fly off the dashboard while I'm driving are over.  It's better than a Tom-Tom.
  • It's only a phone, but it can take over your life.  I've heard people say they've felt practically naked if their phone has been lost or stolen.
  • It has the potential to be a terrible time-waster.
  • Social events are never the same.  Now everyone's there on their phones instead of talking to each other.
  • It makes it too easy for people to relay news or take and post photos that they shouldn't be sharing.
  • Even though the Facebook app is great, it doesn't have the full functionality as it does when you're on a computer.  Same with the Blogger app.

I'm glad I have an iphone.  Yes, I'm very behind the times.  But that's ok.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

From Head to Hand: In it to Win it

It's quite possible that the best writers in the world are not actually the best writers in the world.

Perhaps no-one knows the best writers because they've never actually taken the first step towards becoming published....getting started!

I had some brilliant writers in my Creative Writing classes at uni.  I could imagine that some of them would be good enough to make it in the cutthroat writing world, but I wonder if they've ever actually written something since uni days.  Perhaps they just went and got an ordinary 'day job', became overcome with the usual busyness that goes with family, career and life in general in suburbia and forgot all about writing.

You've got to be in it to win it.

When I hear some people say they're going to start writing a book, unfortunately I just don't believe them.  They don't stick to anything, they just have a million ideas that never really get off the ground and a few half-baked attempts.  They forget that writing takes 90% perspiration and only 10% inspiration.

I know that some people doubt I will ever get my book published.  But I've started editing again for the first time since Rory was born.  Approximately once a week, I put him in daycare for a few hours and go to the public library in town with my laptop and edit away.  Every word is a word closer to the finish line.

I won't give up.  I may not be the most talented writer out there, but at least I can say that I did it...I wrote a book.  Whether it ends up published or not, I gave it a shot.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Quote of the Day

Go on working, freely and furiously, and you will make progress.
- Paul Gauguin

Friday, November 01, 2013

What's Wrong With Two?

I think I'm about to dive into shark-infested with waters with this post....

But, hey, that's never stopped me before. ;)

Since Rory was a few months old, we've been asked when we're going to have another baby.  I kind of expected it since we live in a rush-rush society where people aren't content to enjoy the moment and are always thinking about what's next.  The question mostly came from people who were ignorant of what I've been through this year.  Those who knew the truth never asked; they knew I had enough on my plate.

This is a good answer:

Even before I became a mum I noticed that 'three is the new two'...especially in Christian circles.  It seems a given that Christian families will consist of at least three children.  I do know plenty of Christian couples who stopped at two, but the subtle pressure to have more seems to be there.  I'm glad Karen noticed it too, so I'm not the only one.  I've met some Christian women that seem to think the marker of biblical womanhood is not using contraception so you are not taking the 'control' out of God's hands, that you need to let Him determine the number of children you have, and not try to prevent conception.  I've heard women describe themselves as 'living life on the edge' and implying that the more children you have, the more it shows you trust God (and that women with fewer children must be control freaks).

Personally I think this kind of reasoning against family planning to be ludicrous.  We make decisions in all other areas of our lives so why should the number of kids we have be any different?  As long as a couple are not using contraception which causes abortions, it is a personal decision for each family.  If a couple want lots of children that is their business, so should it be if they want to stop at two...or one.

After everything that has happened this year, we've had to have serious discussions about family planning.  In an ideal world, three children would be great, however I've been warned by numerous medical staff to stay on my medication for at least a year (since April) and that while I can take it while pregnant, it does increase the risk of birth defects.  That's another thing...according to some Christians, being a godly woman means going against a doctor's advice, that if a doctor has told you it is unwise to have more children, then you should have more anyway because doctors can be wrong.  Yes, doctors can be wrong and many of them don't follow God and approve of things that I would consider unethical.  But that doesn't mean every Christian woman should risk her health.  Maybe God is speaking through the doctor...

There is a considerable chance I could end up with postnatal depression again, but I could also be fine.  Duncan and I decided that if I get it again, that's it.  We'll stop at two.  I consider it to be unfair on my husband, family, church and friends to deliberately have child after child when there is a significant chance I will be unwell afterwards, and they will have to pick up the pieces time and time again.  I wouldn't blame them for saying, "Sarah, stop having children.  Be content with the ones you've got."  I seriously don't know how women with depression cope with lots of children.  I've felt like dying with one.

Only in the past few weeks have I felt that another child could be doable one day.  I don't want Rory to grow up as an only child, if possible, as he's such a social chap who would probably love a sibling.  I'd prefer there not to be a big age gap, but we'll see how we go.  I'm really enjoying Rory at the moment and this time with just him will never come again.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Missing in Action

This is a book I read a couple of months ago and mentioned in my post Grieving and Coveting.

The tagline was what drew me in...How mothers lose, grieve and retrieve their sense of self.  After struggling with an identity crisis since becoming a mother, I felt I was meant to read this book!

Anne M. Smollen shares how she felt following the birth of her three children and the book includes many, many quotes from other mothers.  I found this aspect of the book really helpful.  It made me feel less alone having others articulate exactly what was going through my mind.  She helped me feel that it's ok to miss aspects of my pre-baby life - my friends, my work, my creative pursuits etc., and that that loss needs to be acknowledged and grieved just like any other loss.

Some of the struggles other women mentioned that I can relate to include:
  • Not really knowing what I want, having a confused mind.
  • The frustration of mental checklists and things taking so long to complete.
  • Not having adult company as much (without children).
  • A readjustment of goals as far as career goes (in my case, my book).
  • Increased anxiety over silly little things.
  • Dropping to one income.
  • Feeling so tired and unable to put as much effort into friendships and marriage.
  • Not liking the person they've become since becoming a mother.
  • Feeling like they had nothing to contribute to conversations.
  • The frustration of not being able to complain because other people think they should be happy because they 'have it all'.
The thing I didn't like about the book was that while it reassures women who are struggling with their identity as a mother, it simply encourages them to find it somewhere else.  There are checklists and questions in the book about dreams, hopes, aspirations etc. and while these are good things to have, my identity is not in those things either.  My identity is found in Christ.  I am a child of God first and foremost.  Having a child has been a huge wake-up call in that it has forced to re-evaluate how I see myself. 

If you're struggling with the demands of motherhood, it's quite a comforting book.  I said, "YES!" a number of times when reading about others' experiences.  It's always nice to know others are going through the same things and that it's not just me.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Quote of the Day

Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.
- Andy Stanley

Friday, October 25, 2013

What Happened To That Sarah?

Sometimes I look at my life now and can scarcely believe how things have changed in the past 18 months.  In late 2011 and early 2012 I was passionate about meeting up with the elderly in the local nursing home and had started to think about how to better support those involved in overseas mission.  I was asking God those daring, hard questions about how He would have Duncan and I serve Him.  I operated the church powerpoint most weeks.  I loved doing the mission convenor role.

But this year, I've hardly given any of the above a fleeting thought.  I surrendered the mission convenor role when Rory was four weeks old as it was plainly obvious I was sinking fast.  I haven't done the powerpoint all year as I'm usually feeding in the cry room.  Often the only time I'm thinking about older people is when I'm seething about how an outspoken old lady has said something judgemental or just plain dumb about parenting.

My main goal this year is to get well, keep my family alive and just get through the day.

A few months ago, I tried to join the Bible study group that meets before church, the main reason being that it consists mostly of older people and I wanted to meet with and encourage them.  But it just didn't happen - trying to get to church earlier was stressful, it created a dilemma of how Duncan was going to entertain Rory at church for an hour while the group met...it was just too hard!  I was terribly disappointed.  Not long after that, I had my relapse.

Some people say that God closes doors and others say you need to kick down those doors.  I tried to kick it down, but I honestly feel that God DID close that door, at least for now.

In the last few weeks some of that old passion has come back; a small spark has been ignited.  Duncan and I talked and came to the agreement that now is the right time to become mission convenors again and we will start again at the beginning of next year.  I've started to think of small things I can do to support mission such as praying whenever missionaries enter my thoughts (thanks Meredith for the brilliant post Why Didn't I Pray?), making things to sell at our church stall etc.

It's not the right season for the nursing home and powerpoint, but I'm hopeful that one day it will be.

I've learnt that it's not about what I do.  Any pride I had in my church involvement has been stripped away.  God's love for me is not based on how many rosters I go on.  There are a million ways to serve that are unofficial - a kind, encouraging word, bringing a packet of biscuits for morning tea, sharing with other mums in the cry room.  God has given me a son to raise in this season of life.

So where is that Sarah?  She's still there somewhere.  Maybe this is just a hope deferred and one day I'll see her again.  If not, I know God loves me and there is always work for us to do - even if it's the work we didn't expect at the time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

11 Questions

Janine from Reflections from a Redhead tagged me to answer 11 questions.  Here goes:

1.  Do you have a place you visit in a recurring dream?
It used to be my bedroom (surprise, surprise).  When Rory was born, I would always have the same recurring nightmare...I was in my bed and he was in the bed with me, except he would disappear beneath the doona and I couldn't find him. I would wake up screaming.  Horrible!  Thankfully I haven't had those dreams for about six months now.

2.  Which albums or songs were your personal soundtrack to the year you turned 18?
It was 2001.  I remember With Arms Wide Open by Creed, Hanging by a Moment by Lifehouse, Hit 'Em Up Style by Blu Cantrell were some of my faves that came out that year.

3.  Which band did you originally hate but in time became one of your favourites?
I never hated them, but I didn't get why everyone raved about U2.  It wasn't until I moved in with my friend Emma and listened to her The Best of 1980-1990 CD that I was hooked.  I went to their concert in Perth in 2010.

4.  What is your favourite holiday and how do you usually celebrate it?
Christmas!  We take turn about to visit our families - one year with my parents, one year with Duncan's parents, then we also have it at our place and invite our parents and brothers to join us.  My parents aren't Christians so sometimes we go to church and sometimes we don't.  We have a Christmas tree and presents which my Dad hands out wearing a Santa hat (although last year my brother took over).  If we're with Duncan's family, then we always go to church and then have a roast lunch afterwards, usually with extended family as well.

5.  What is your most outrageous Lotto dream (not helping family/charity or paying bills, just something completely out there if you the money and permission to do anything)?
It seems so selfish, but I guess a European/UK holiday then a trip to a beach paradise, then support myself to write novels.

6.  Where do you wish you could revisit again for the very first time?
Sydney and Esperance.

7.  When do you think we will finally have hoverboards?
Soon I hope.  I want one, but it probably won't be for at least another 10-15 years.

8.  What is your favourite photograph of yourself?
I would say one from my wedding day:

9.  What is your favourite memory from the town/city you live in now?
Christmas 2011.  Our first Christmas as hosts and the first time we had both families join us.  The 'battle of the siblings' tennis match (me and my brother versus Duncan and his brother) was a classic!

10.  What is the song you danced to when you first danced with someone you liked?
I have no idea.

11.  What now obsolete or lost item from your childhood/teens do you wish you bring back?
Judy Blume books.  My cousin lent them to me when she finished with them, now I've given them back to her so her daughter can read them.  I get so excited when I find one in an opshop.

Feel free to do this questionnaire on your own blog. :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Our last day in Sydney...*sob*

Amanda and I caught the train to Newtown so we could have some childfree time to chat.  Michael and Duncan drove with the kids to meet us.

I would have loved more time to explore this old and very quirky suburb.  So many interesting shops and cafes!  Unfortunately the airport beckoned...

No trip to Sydney would be complete without a visit to Max Brenner

It was so good getting to catch up with a very dear friend.


 Some of these photos are Amanda's.  Used with permission.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Darling Harbour

On our third full day in Sydney we caught up with our friends Jane and Tim and their baby Ruth, who is 11 weeks younger than Rory.  We met in the city and then walked to Darling Harbour to see some of the tall replica ships coming in:

It was a wet and miserable day in Sydney, and Jane quickly realised it wasn't the right weather for thongs.  So we made a quick visit to a shoe shop where I got her to pose with this sign haha:
We enjoyed a delicious lunch at a Chinese restaurant and the bubbas socialised while we ate:
Gorgeous views

The day wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Lindt Café:
Cuddles with Ruth



The bubbas seemed quite taken with each other.